Dissenting Japan

A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima

July 2016 9781849045797 360pp
Temporarily out of stock


Following the March 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis, the media remarked with surprise on how thousands of demonstrators had flocked to the streets of Tokyo. But mass protest movements are nothing new in Japan. The post-war period experienced years of unrest and violence on both sides of the political spectrum: from demos to riots, strikes, campus occupations, factional infighting, assassinations and even international terrorism.

This is the first comprehensive history in English of political radicalism and counterculture in Japan, as well as of the artistic developments during this turbulent time. It chronicles the major events and movements from 1945 to the new flowering of protests and civil dissent in the wake of Fukushima. Introducing readers to often ignored aspects of Japanese society, it explores the fascinating ideologies and personalities on the Right and the Left, including the student movement, militant groups and communes. While some elements parallel developments in Europe and America, much of Japan’s radical recent past (and present) is unique and offers valuable lessons for understanding the context to the new waves of anti-government protests the nation is currently witnessing.


‘This much-needed book addresses a range of groups engaged in revolutionary politics, radical protests and counter-culture. In doing so, it provides a perspective on Japanese society that is rarely covered in English … Dissenting Japan is a necessary text, and a compelling intellectual call to arms.’ — Japan Times

Andrews’ brilliant account of Japan’s marginalised narrative of postwar dissent and activism brims with insights, passion and astute analysis. This is a lucidly written, well-researched people’s history that gives voice to the voiceless and demonstrates a shrewd understanding of Japanese society, leftist political culture and the politics of ongoing culture wars. There is nothing quite like this masterpiece of postwar history, and as such it is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the Japan and Japanese lurking behind the misleading memes of harmony, tranquility, and deference to authority.’ — Jeffrey Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University (Japan Campus)

‘William Andrews’ timely book provides invaluable insights into key events, movements, and ideas that shaped post-war Japanese radicalism. Andrews brings to the surface a history that is often unseen, concealed, or poorly understood — yet continues to exert substantial influence on today’s emergent protests following the 2011 triple disaster.’ — Robin O’Day, Department of History and Anthropology, The University of Tsukuba

‘William Andrews vividly details a history not previously available in English. This book guides the reader through the contested terrain of postwar Japanese politics and protest, challenging stereotypes of an inherently harmonious Japanese society. A gripping read for even those casually curious about the shape of contemporary dissent in Japan.’ — Chelsea Szendi Schieder, Meiji University, School of Political Science and Economics


William Andrews is a writer and translator in Tokyo. He has lived in Japan for ten years.

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